Friday, December 28, 2012

Serena Miller's A Promise to Love ~ Reviewed

By Serena B. Miller
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0800721176
332 Pages

Back Cover: 

Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own. Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family--but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.


This historical opens in White Rock, Michigan, 1871. Joshua Hunter’s life has taken an unexpected turn. Ingrid’s world is rocked too. She’s employed as Milicent’s house keeper as she searches for her twin brother in America. Joshua and Ingrid’s lives intersect in a most unusual way.

By the looks of the front cover you’d never expect a novel that brings to life I Cor 13 in the most natural, heartfelt way. I was hooked from the first page as I felt for Ingrid and Joshua’s struggle. The story is gripping. I stood amazed as Ingrid walked out her faith through the pain of hardship as she pressed into God’s word and showed a love to others beyond herself. It was inspiring not preachy!

This novel was based on the authors’ grandmother’s life. Serena dedicated the book to her, “to my grandmother, Elizabeth Allen Bonzo, who married for love – who endured in that love – and by enduring healed a broken family.” Wow, boy did she!

Ingrid reminded me a little of the character Julie Andrews played in the Sound of Music.  Julie Andrews’s character cared for the Van trap children stood up to their father when necessary and was surprised when she fell in love with their father.

Joshua Hunter is in need of someone to care for is five children. Ingrid’s complied to care for the little ones and Joshua. Ingrid experiences a love she only dreamed of for her own children and husband. The children welcome her in unexpected ways, but Joshua is still grieving the loss of his wife. He’s thankful to have Ingrid’s help but doesn’t notice her beyond that.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” 1 Cor 13:7 Ingrid shows all these things to the Hunter family. Her faith in God shines as she allows him to work through her and love them. She longs for someone to love her in the same way. Can she be satisfied if Joshua never loves her like that?

This book has so many surprises, plot twists and turns I couldn’t put this book down. It’s an inspiring and amazing story. Especially to know it was based on this authors’ grandmother. I’m thankful for the review copy that introduced me to a brand new author and her compelling encouraging story I highly recommend.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Jill Williamson's The New Recruit ~ Reviewed

The Mission League - Mission 1: Moscow
By Jill Williamson
September 2012
Marcher Lord Press
ISBN 978-1935929703

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club. These guys mean business. Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

Looking for some snappy, snarky, teenage fun? This is the book for you...even if your teenage years are a faint blur in your rearview mirror. 

Unlikely hero Spencer Garmond goes on quite the adventure all the way over to Russia. Surrounded by wannabe missionaries, this bad boy breaks every rule there is, in a lovable fashion, of course. I loved being privy to Spencer's off-the-cuff thoughts. That's what really made this character one of my favorites.

But don't let all the adolescent shenanigans fool you into thinking this is a fluffy read. Author Jill Williamson tucks in some hard-hitting spiritual truths amidst the teenage angst and suspenseful plot. 

The only down side to the book was some noticeable editing glitches...misplaced quotation marks and a missing period or two. Even so, don't hesitate to pick this one up for yourself or for a teen you know, boy or girl. Either, and you, will love it.
Reviewed by: Michelle Griep 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Melody Carlson's A Dream for Tomorrow ~ Reviewed

Melody Carlson
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948732


Bestselling author Melody Carlson (more than 5 million books sold) continues her Homeward on the Oregon Trail series with this second romantic adventure.

Elizabeth Martin and her two children have made it through the easy part of their journey, but now their wagon train faces high mountain passes, dangerous river crossings, and decreasing supplies. Desperate circumstances bring out the best and worst of the travelers, including Will Bramford, the wealthy widower who is pursuing Elizabeth, and Eli Kincade, the independent and solitary guide who has stolen Elizabeth's heart.

As the group reaches the Oregon Country, the emigrants part ways to find their new homes. Elizabeth and Will and their families have made arrangements to board a ship that will take them south along the coast. 

Will Eli change his plans and accompany Elizabeth to her new and permanent home? Or will his mysterious past continue to keep them from love?


A Dream For Tomorrow picks up where Westward Hearts left off.  Elizabeth Martin and her family are around the second leg of their journey to the Oregon coast.  The travelers are finding that the most difficult part of the journey lies ahead.  Whether it’s raging rivers to cross, or difficult mountain passes, they do their best to work together and support each other so that everyone makes it in the end.  During the trip, Elizabeth gets a letter from her sister-in-law, Malinda, who they are going to stay with in Oregon.  The letter was meant to reach the family before they left, warning them not to come, as the situation in the Oregon Territory is much worse than what she told them.  This causes Elizabeth to question her judgment in packing up and heading west.  In the meantime, Elizabeth’s feelings for Eli Kincade, the trail scout, are growing, but she fears it isn’t meant to be.
 I was so excited for this book to come out!  The first book ended in the middle of their journey and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!  The characters and the setting of the story just come alive in my mind, and I can’t wait for the third book to come out!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teasi Cannon's My Big Bottom Blessing ~ Reviewed

By Teasi Cannon
Published by Worthy Publishing
215 Pages

Back Cover: The media feeds us distorted images of beauty and what an "ideal woman" should look like. In My Big Bottom Blessing, author Teasi Cannon offers a way out of distorted body images and the pain of self-rejection.  She says, "My obsession with fat and failure robbed me of a lot of the good in my life.  I have been miraculously set free from the lie that being thin equals being beautiful."

My Big Bottom Blessing offers Teasi's story--and real-life solutions for the millions of women who struggle with poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy and rejection.  Whatever it is that you despise most about yourself (it doesn't have to be weight) can become the catalyst for serious life change. Teasi' story proves that emotional pain can be healed and self-confidence found from knowing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

My Big Bottom Blessing is a joyful, compassionate, and wise guide from someone who knows the power of exchanging the way we look with a new way of seeing.

Review: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Teasi Cannon and the courage she had to be so transparent as she shared her heart with readers. Teasi’s book is fun to read, inspirational and humorous. She talks about helpful tools for those who are dealing with pain and struggling to walk out who God says they are because of the lies they’ve believed. The author gives the reader hope and helps them get to the point tho believe they are beautiful in Gods eyes.

Teasi says, “This obsession we have with weight and physical appearance is crazy – especially from a Christian perspective. Think about this: The value that has been placed upon being thin is not a value that has been given by God. In fact, the Bible is pretty clear that what matters most to the Lord is the appearance of the heart…so, who do you think is behind this value inflation? Could it be the father of lies the devil? Who else would want to keep us distracted and weighed down by things that matter so little? Who else would have us to hate the very flesh God made?”

Don’t you love how she says that? So, so true! Each chapter deals with a subject, then asks the reader What about you? How do you feel? Teasi asks questions to have you think and space in the book to actually write down their thoughts. It’s a built in discussion time. Topics discussed.

  1. Negative thoughts exposed
  2. Private prayers revealed
  3. Worldly desires divulged
  4. Fickle feelings
  5. Misperceptions unmasked
  6. Owning up to Orphan ways
  7. Weighty words
  8. Facing forgiveness
  9. Behold the beauty
  10. Beating the Beast

The author gives the reader pep talks all through the book. What would Jesus focus on – getting the real stuff, unconditional love, security, affirmation, and purpose?

Teasi says this about herself and her focus on being thin, “Even more ridiculous is the fact that my obsession with fat and failure robbed me of a lot of the good in my life…..everywhere…I was always aware of my weight, and that awareness kept me from truly living…I’m choosing to believe what God says to me in the bible now. That’s final. I get a-do-over.” We all do. That’s the exciting part.

This book is one you’ll read and refer to over and over again. It’s definitely one to share with you friends. Re-reading the book you’ll discover something new. God will use it to heal another part of your wounded heart.

Each time you read the book you’ll have the courage to see yourself the way God sees you. God will reveal more lies we believe and help us walk in the truth that will set us free. The author reminds us we are all a work in progress!  I highly recommend this book.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, December 17, 2012

Steven Jones's Colourful ~ Reviewed

Colourful: Confessions of an Old Rogue
Steven Jones
Kindle Edition: ASIN: B0090OIG30 261 pages, $4.50 

Reviewed by: Jodi Chapters

Steven Jones starts his memoir off with an attention grabber. How many times do you find the definition of a word like colourful as the first thing you read? But it worked. Jones had my attention instantly and I wanted to know what went on inside the man’s head.

To say Steven Jones has lead a colourful life is an understatement, and he proves just that as he regales us with stories one can only be amazed by. His quick wit and self-deprecation combined with the sometimes illegal situations will have you shaking your head and laughing at the audacity of the man.

A child in the 1950s born to a hard-working, proud family Steven learned the value of an honest day’s work. But being a boy in a working class neighbourhood Steven inevitably had the usual scuffles with the law that boys do even to this day. Fighting, vandalism and drinking had Steven experienced long ahead of his years and looking to achieve his goal of becoming a boxing champion.

Through the push to be the best and at the top of his game to the times of rock bottom you can’t help but be in awe of Steven. From boxer and dock worker to author and playwright the man has done it all; and with enough verve that even though some of his choices were poor you can’t help but be impressed by his tenacity and even a little jealous that you haven’t lived half of what Steven has, after all the man has crammed the amount of two lives into his 50 odd years.

The book is written in a no holds barred, tell it like it is style. He makes no apologies and quite frankly I find that refreshing as some memoirs candy coat the rough spots. The book is a quick read, perfect for an afternoon on the couch with one of Steven’s infamous glasses of JD.

This read easily makes 5 stars.
Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for my opinion.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Linda Byler's Wild Horses ~ Reviewed

Wild Horses, Sadie's Montana Series #1
By: Linda Byler
More in Sadie's Montana Series
Good Books / 2011 / Paperback
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Good Books
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 1561487368

When the Miller family moved from Ohio to Montana, Sadie had to leave her beloved horse, the palomino named Paris. Stll, she likes the Montana snows and her job at Aspen East ranch serving the ranch hands.
Unexpectedly, Ezra appears, the man who seems to be perfect in every way and fully intends to marry Sadie. But does she love him back?


Wild Horses is book one in the series Sadie’s Montana Sadie is a young Amish woman who is heart broken when her family moves from Ohio to Montana.  Not only is she separated from her family, but also from her beloved horse, Paris.  Sadie finally starts to adjust to Montana, having settled in with her family and beginning a job at a local Ranch.  However, upon rescuing a dying horse, she meets a young man named Mark, who appears to be English, though he attends Amish functions.  She begins to have feelings for him but is also being courted by an Amish man named Ezra.  In the meantime, not only is her mother’s health is deteriorating, but a band of wild horses is wreaking havoc on the community.  It seems as if life is going out of control for Sadie.
I LOVED this book.  I don’t know what it was about it, but it stuck out to me in comparison to the other Amish books I’ve read.  This family seemed more relaxed in their beliefs.  Perhaps that was it.  I really loved the storyline.  So much so that I went out and bought the sequels while still reading book one because I was so excited to see what happened.  I love the story line and Sadie’s love for horses.  She has such a special way with them.  I can’t say too much more without giving it away, but I highly recommend this book!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ace Collins's The Yellow Packard ~ Reviewed

By Ace Collins
Published By Barbour Books
320 Pages

Back Cover: Buckle up for intrigue and adventure in scenic Depression-era America. George Hall, a draftsman, buys a 1936 Packard sedan from the estate of spinster Abigale Watling in Oakwood, Illinois. At first, the car brings George, his wife Jean, and their daughter Rose an unexpected boon. But tragedy follows when Rose is kidnapped. The auto then comes into the possession of salesman William Landers, FBI agent Helen Meeker, and serviceman James Coffman’s family. As clues to the kidnapping caper come to light, more than one life is in jeopardy. Will Agent Meeker catch the culprit before it’s too late?

Review: Ace delivers a story with a great blend of suspense, mystery, romance and quirky characters that captured my curiosity in this intriguing who-done-it?

Mystery and legend surround the Yellow Packard just like those of the Hope Diamond owners. Disaster befalls this car right from the assembly line! Everyone is a little freaked by the car and the first owner gets the car at a great price because of it.  The owner’s thankful for a way to get to and from work. The car is way more than he had hoped for his family.

Ace brings to life a cast of colorful characters I became attached to, rooted for, rejoiced with in their triumphs and felt sad for them in their tears of tragedy. The author brilliantly weaves in elements of yester year and I adored the sense of small town community, where everyone knows your name. 

I’m thankful to have received a review copy of a story that was compelling, pulled at my heart strings, was filled with surprises, and left me with a smile on my face and a satisfied ending. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, December 10, 2012

Annie Wald's Walk With Me ~ Reviewed

Annie Wald
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: River North
Publication Date: 2012

ISBN: 0802405932


Walk with Me is a "Pilgrim's Progress" for married couples. In this allegorical tale, Peter and Celeste travel as one on the lifelong journey to the King's City. As it becomes more difficult than anticipated, their love for each other and their love for the King is challenged. They must decide whether to continue on the journey together or separate and travel the path alone.


Walk With Me is the Pilgrim’s Progress for married couples.  It tells the story of Celeste and Peter.  Celeste is from a non-Christian home who desires to know the Lord and decides to follow the path to the “King’s City.”  Peter has grown up in a legalistic home and also leaves to follow the path to the “King’s City.”  Along the way, they meet each other and marry.  The story uses allegory to describe the trials and joys married couples go through in this life.

I’m not sure how to better describe the story line.  I really didn’t think I would be able to get into this book at all, but I ended up loving it.  The author did such a good job of using allegory to portray what obstacles married couples go through.  Even now, talking about it, I want to read it again.  This is a poor review for such a great book, but I just don’t know how else to describe it.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  It really made me take a look at myself as a wife and realize the things I need to work on.  Please read this book.  You won’t regret it.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, December 07, 2012

Alice Wisler's Still Life in Shadows ~ Reviewed

By Alice J. Wisler
Published by River North
ISBN# 978-0802406262
295 Pages

Back Cover: 

It's been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen.  Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic's garage. He meets a host of interesting characters -the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the "Getaway Savior" he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.  
One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother's body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father? 


Readers will experience another side of this author’s writing talent as Alice pens a pretty sober look at an Amish run away, Gideon Miller, aka the Getaway Savior, in Twin Branches, N.C. Gideon is willing to help boys who desire to leave the Amish life style and enter the world of the English.  Gideon helps them adjust to a new life, new rules and a modern society.

Alice’s character, Kiki, an austic teen, stole Gideon’s heart and mine as well.  “Gideon wondered how in the world Kiki was always able to make him smile even at the most sentimental times. Sometimes people looked at her and muttered that she wasn’t right. But they were incorrect because most of the time, Kiki was the only one who was right. Her honesty, her openness, her ability to forgive, and her freedom to be Kiki and no one else was what she offered to all she met. And to Gideon, that seemed like the right way to live.”

Moriah, Gideon’s younger brother surprises him. Both boys are held hostage by their unforgiveness toward their father. The pain and memories are eating them alive. This author shows how both boys deal with their pain, from one extreme to the other.

Marie, Kiki’s sister has secrets of her own. She’s determined to make a good home for herself and Kiki. She struggles at paying the bills and getting her sister what she needs all the while dealing with the pain of unforgiveness herself.

Change will occur when the hurt in the heart is greater than the fear of change. Could Morriah, Gideon, Marie and Kiki trust God with their heart, pain and life?

I enjoyed how Alice dealt with real people, real issues and the cleansing power of forgiveness in a natural way. Everyone experiences pain in life. How we deal with the pain is the key to freedom in this life. Whether you’re Amish or English, each life style has hurts and hardship. Each person has the need to be loved, accepted, and yearns for a loving family.

Alice writes a believable story that naturally weaves in the healing power of forgiveness with characters I fell in love with. It was a refreshing read in Gideon’s pov. There’s so much to talk about. I highly recommend this novel for your next book club pick.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Liz Johnson's A Promise to Protect ~ Reviewed

A Promise to Protect
By: Liz Johnson 

Love Inspired Suspense Series
Steeple Hill Books 

ISBN-13: 9780373445189




Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend's sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer-not on his watch. But Matt's not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women's shelter she runs. She's sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can't handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web far more sinister than she'd realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive..
Promise to Protect involves a young woman named Ashley Sawyer, who, after having been in an abusive relationship, now runs a battered woman’s shelter.  After taking in and successfully hiding a young girl whom she knew nothing about, Ashley is beginning to receive threats like none she’s had before – someone trying to run her over, a brick being thrown through the window of the home, threatening notes.  She is unsure how to react when Matt Waterstone, her brother’s best friend who is also a Navy Seal, comes to the rescue at the request of her brother.  They find that they are getting involved in more than they bargained for, not only with the threats they are receiving, but with their growing feelings for each other.                
I wasn’t sure how much I would like this book at the beginning, but the story line was really good and it drew me in quickly.  I love that Ashley was willing to run this home and help these woman.  Even though she had been through a horrible experience, instead of keeping it quiet and not dealing with it, she used it to help less fortunate women.  I was glad when she was finally able to realize that she couldn’t rely completely on herself for everything.  She had to learn the hard way that God’s strength was made perfect in her weakness.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Davis Bunn's Rare Earth ~ Reviewed

By Davis Bunn
Published by Bethany House Publishers
368 Pages

Book Cover: 

Davis Bunn Strikes Gold Once Again!

Marc Royce stares down from the helicopter on the Rift Valley slashing across Africa like a scar. Tribal feuds, drought, and dislocation have left their devastation. And he sees a new wound--a once-dormant volcano oozing molten lava across the dry landscape--and clouds of ash obscure his vision. His undercover assignment is similarly obscured. Supposedly dispatched to audit a relief organization's accounts, Marc finds himself amid the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps caught in a stranglehold of corruption and ruthlessness.

But his true task relates to the area's reserves of once-obscure metals now indispensable to high-tech industry. The value of this rare earth inflames tensions on the world's stage as well as among warring tribes. When an Israeli medical administrator, Kitra, seeks Marc's help with her humanitarian efforts, they forge an unexpected link between impoverished African villages and another Silicon Valley rising in the Israeli desert. Precious metals and inventive minds promise new opportunities for prosperity, secure futures, and protection of valuable commodities from terrorists. As Marc prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes a chance to restore justice to this troubled land. This time, he may have gone too far.


After Marc’s last mission in Baghdad, life has not been normal. “In fact, Marc Royce, decided the best way to handle it now was stop trying to define what normal was.”

Marc Royce is on another mission impossible, all the while keeping the main thing…the main thing. I enjoyed that aspect of the story, the rich characterization and intricate plot with all the surprises and drama.

This author’s work experience in the Middle East and his compassion and understanding of the people and their traditions radiate through out this story. He delves into crucial issues with sensitivity I appreciated.

Guard asks, “Pastor Philip wishes to know if the Lord Jesus ordered you to come.”

Marc, “I would like to think that Jesus guides my every step. But I am human enough to know that there is too much of me in everything I do.”

I love how Davis Bunn naturally weaves his faith message amongst the drama and action. Jesus is with us always. I like how this author is not preachy but lets the reader know a relationship with Jesus is important to Marc Royce and others in this novel. I was moved to read how faith united Marc and the people of the Middle East. They shared the same father.

I’m thankful for the review copy of this novel which depicts Marc being thrust into the middle of a highly explosive situation. He goes undercover to work for a relief organization. He seeks to get to the bottom of the chaos reeking havoc on refugee camps in Kenya. Warning to readers this is a nail biting suspenseful mission that will keep you up reading. The author leaves the reader wanting to know what will happen to Marc Royce next. I know that Davis Bunn will have Marc in the middle of a mission that shows the reader all things are possible with Christ working in us and through us! I highly recommend this riveting novel and series.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anne Lyle's The Alchemist of Souls ~ Reviewed

By Anne Lyle
Angry Robot Books

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers wake, brining Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I's capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is appointed to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally--and Mal his soul.

This is my very first alternate historical piece of fiction...and probably not my last. What does that mean exactly? According to Wikipedia: Alternate history or alternative history[1] is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. 

In this case, that means the addition of a different species called skraylings. They are kind of a super power with unique abilities that humans don't have. There were some interesting twists in the plot, a smattering of supernatural activity, and lots and lots of intrigue. Plus, I loved the scenes in the Tower, and who doesn't love a good romp through Elizabeth I's capital city?

Be aware that this is an ABA offering, so yes, there is the requisite sex scene (and in this case, same gender, which took me by surprise and dare I say creeped me out?). So if you're easily offended, you might want to skip this book. The writing, however, was well done. 

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jerry and Tina Eicher's The Amish Family Cook Book ~ Reviewed

By Jerry and Tina Eicher
Published by Harvest House
Pages 272

About Authors: Jerry Eicher's bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah's Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he's been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia. Tina Eicher was born and married in the Amish faith, surrounded by a mother and sisters who were great Amish cooks. At fellowship meals and family gatherings, Tina's dishes receive high praise and usually return empty. She and her husband, Jerry Eicher, author of several bestselling Amish fiction titles, are the parents of four children and live in Virginia.

Review: There are several things I really enjoyed about this cookbook even thought there were no color pictures of the recipes. The pages were sturdy and could easily lay flat so you can keep referring to it as you go down the instructions for the recipe.

First of all I think this would make a great book club companion. Why? There are several recipes that come directly from this couples fiction Amish book. Included in the book are the title and quote from the book that mentions a food item the character was making or loved. For example:

In the book Rebecca's Return she mentions Rebecca's Vanilla can rolls, In the book Ella's Wish - they mention Ella's Broccoli Soup, In A Hope for Hanna, Aunt Betty's Country Fried Venison, Missing Your Smile they talk about Susan's Christmas Buckeyes, in Rebecca's Promise there is Rebecca's Oatmeal, and in A Wedding Quilt for Ella there is Ella's Beef Casserole. There are a few more. This makes for great book club fun.

I made several of the recipes in this book. I found the recipes easy to follow and all were yummy. The only thing that I missed in this cook book was the fact that she didn't mention how many servings each recipe made. I didn't know how much I depended on that especially when I was making muffins, cookies or bread.

Scattered throughout the book were Amish words of wisdom that I really enjoyed for example: "Lying in bed dreaming never got the work done."

" We don't realize how wonderful today is until tomorrow"

"Great leaders take joy in the success of those under them"

"If you walk with God you will be out of step with the world"

"The cost of a thing is the amount of life which must be exchanged for it."

This book is broken down in to several categories. Appetizers and Beverages, Breakfast, Cakes, Candies, Cookies and Bars, Desserts, Grilling, Main Dishes, Pies, Quick Breads, Salads and Gelatin Salads, Soups and Sandwiches, Vegetables and Side Dishes and finally Yeast Breads.

This book is fun in more ways than one. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jason Wright's The 13th Day of Christmas ~ Reviewed

Jason Wright
 Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (October 9, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609071778
ISBN-13: 978-1609071776


Marva Ferguson has a very personal Christmas tradition that happens every December 26. As an aging widow, the tradition means more to her now than it ever has. Her newest neighbor, nine-year-old Charlee, loves Christmas too. But her family has fallen on hard times and things get worse when Charlee becomes critically ill. Then, on December 12, Charlee makes a wonderful discovery. A mysterious note is delivered that promises twelve days of gifts and stories that will reveal the truth behind the beloved Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. As the days go by, the gifts hint at a possible lost lyric. Was there once a 13th day of Christmas? And if so, could its magic change or save a life? If Marva knows something about the letters from the Elves, she s not telling. However, you don t live as long as Marva Ferguson and not have a secret or two including a whole lot of faith in your apron pocket. Filled with laughter, tenderness, and hope, The 13th Day of Christmas invites us to see how an old Christmas favorite can turn into a true Christmas miracle.


The 13th Day of Christmas is one of those perfect Christmas reads. Short and simple for those busy days leading up to the big holiday. Well-written and with characters who are ably drawn. Familiar themes of loss and struggles blending into all that is good about Christmas make for a heart-warming, heart-rending story that ends with hope. Wright also wends the narrative with humor and clever dialogue. This isn't a light, whimsical read because it does deal with illness, poverty and sorrow. It might be too sad for some who might be freshly dealing with loss or illness. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review: 

The 13th Day of Christmas revolves around the friendship of 80 something Marva Ferguson, and her new neighbor, nine-year-old Charlee.  Marva is a widow who collects aprons and loves Christmas.  Charlee has just gone through a tremendous change, as her father lost his job and the family had to sell everything and move to a small trailer in a new town.  Marva and Charlee become fast friends, as Marva is young at heart and Charlee is an old soul.  Everyone’s world is torn apart when Charlee becomes quite ill.  However, there are surprises in store for Charlee, as on December 12th, a mysterious note is delivered to her that tell the “truth” behind “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

This book started out a tad slow for me, but as it got going, I found myself really enjoying it and having a hard time putting it down.  There were a couple of different plot twists that were completely unexpected to me, so it kept me on my toes.  I loved the story of Marva and Charlee’s friendship.  And all of Marva’s aprons!  I believe the author said she had hundreds of them, and would change them several times a day, depending on her mood.  That just sounds like so much fun!  This was a very heartwarming story.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, November 16, 2012

Liz Curtis Higgs's A Wreath of Snow ~ Reviewed

By Liz Curtis Higgs
Published by Waterbrook
ISBN# 978-1400072170
224 Pages

Back Cover: Wrapped in a cloud of steam, the engine rolled to a stop, the screech of metal against metal filling the frosty air. Snow blew across the railway platform and around Meg’s calfskin walking boots. The weather definitely was not improving.

She ordered tea with milk and sugar, eying the currant buns and sweet mincemeat tarts displayed beneath a bell jar. Later, perhaps, when her appetite returned. At the moment her stomach was twisted into a knot.

“Anything else for you?” the cashier asked as she handed over the tea, steaming and fragrant.

Meg was surprised to find her fingers trembling when she lifted the cup. “All I want is a safe journey home.”

“On a day like this?” the round-faced woman exclaimed. “None but the Almighty can promise you that, lass.”

Review:  Liz Curtis Higgs pens moving story that driving home the real meaning of Christmas in her new novella I was thrilled to receive a review copy of. This novella is a Victorian Christmas, in Scotland, 1894.

The two main characters captured my heart as they interact with each other one snowy night on a train. They are both headed in different destinations but troubles with the train derailing have them on the same path seeking shelter for the night from the cold.

This story was easy to read and will help you get into the Christmas spirit as you experience these characters struggle in returning home to a place that didn’t have fond memories for either of them. It was a place to be avoided because of the pain and fear it conjured up.

On the train Gordon realizes who Meg is.  A surprising excitement rises up in him as he sees an opportunity to seek forgiveness for a horrible accident that happened in their childhood. He tried to ask for their forgiveness then but no one would listen, they didn’t see it as an accident. The event changed Meg’s family forever. Was he selfish to seek their forgiveness and bring up the past with its memories? Meg was sweet to him now because she didn’t know who he was, how would she treat him when she found out?

This author writes about a period time gone by when the value of family was strong and home and honesty were gifts to be treasured.  Her main characters are complex and carry the weight of unforgiveness like a heavy load on their backs. Unforgiveness holds them hostage to the horrible childhood event.  It makes the pain fresh and they live the experience over and over again. Liz shows through her characters.  forgiveness is a gift from God to set us free from the pain of the past. God gives us many chances to be set free from the chains that hold us back from really receiving all he has for us. It’s the greatest Christmas gift of all. It’s one to be passed on for sure!

Meg finally realizes who Gordon is and considers his request. Could she put herself and her family through the pain of the past?

Gordon Shaw is not the person she remembered as a child. He was a man who was humbled, changed and seeking to do the right thing. Would Meg give him that chance?

This is a story that will warm your heart and get you focused on the reason for the season. It includes a yummy recipe and questions good for family and book club discussions.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Linda Windsor's Rebel ~ Reviewed

The Brides of Alba (book 3)
By Linda Windsor
David C. Cook Publisher
June 2012
ISBN 978-1-4347-6476-8

With Merlin dead, the succession undecided, and the Celtic church on the defensive from Rome, intrigue sweeps the court of the High King Arthur. But it's all battlefield news that consumes Queen Gwenhyfar's young scribe, Kella O'Toole: her fiance is dead and her father gone missing. Determined to find him at all costs, Kella defies the queen's orders and sets out for Pictish territory. Her foster brother Alyn, a disillusioned priest who questions his calling, agrees to help her. The journey itself is perilous. But it's their secrets that land Kella and Alyn in a viper's nest of treachery that threatens both their lives and the future of Albion. 

Like a big slab of chocolate cake tops off a great meal, REBEL is a satisfying end to this fast-paced historical trilogy. Author Linda Windsor  weaves her facts seamlessly into a story that will stick with you long after you've closed the cover. 

Kella is a feisty heroine, which is quite the combination with hero Alyn's somewhat laid-back personality. He's no pushover, however, even though he's a former priest. Their relationship is as tumultuous as the bickering warlords around them.

I really enjoyed this series. I was hoping for a bit more of a reunion with the heroes/heroines of the previous 2 books (HEALER and THIEF), but that didn't happen. Guess I'll just have to re-read those, eh? Which won't be a problem, because the Brides of Alba trilogy has earned a spot on my bookshelf.
Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Friday, November 09, 2012

Courtney Walsh's A Sweethaven Christmas ~ Reviewed

A Sweethaven Christmas, Sweethaven Summer Series #3   -     
        By: Courtney Walsh

A Sweethaven Christmas, Sweethaven Summer Series #3
By: Courtney Walsh

Release Date Oct 1, 2012
ISBN 0824931823
EAN 9780824931827

* It's holiday time in Sweethaven, but things aren't going as planned! Surprised to learn that she has a sister, Lila is even more shocked by other family secrets she unearths. When a scrapbook reminds Adele of her first love, she arranges a reunion with the man. And are wedding bells in Campbell's future? 320 pages, softcover from Guideposts.


This book follows up where A Sweet Haven Homecoming left off.  We are reunited with all of the girls again, as they each go through different struggles.  Adele is reunited with her first love unexpectedly, and is unsure what to do next.  Campbell is struggling with whether or not she’s ready for a commitment to Luke.  Lila is confronted things about her family she never would have dreamed, especially when a woman shows up claiming to be her half sister.  Meghan is trying to jump start her career again by filming a Christmas special in Sweet Haven.  And finally, Jane confronts her struggle with her health and is not sure how to take the next step.

I was so excited that there was another book in this series.  I really enjoyed getting to know all of the ladies in the last book, and this book just tied everything together and gave the story an appropriate ending.  I really liked getting to know each of the characters more.  I kind of hope the author continues the series, as I wouldn’t mind seeing what happens next!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sarah Sundin's With Every Letter ~ Reviewed

By Sarah Sundin
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0800720810
425 Pages

Back Cover:  

Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?


Sarah Sundin has the gift of bringing history to life through characters I instantly care about. I was so thankful to receive a review copy of this novel with just the right mix of history that highlighted pioneering inspiring women who served as flight nurses in WWII, romance, suspense, humor and faith. Sarah brings the reader to the front lines of war in a memorable and personal way.

I loved the use of the personal letters in this book as characters wrote back and forth to each other. Mellies Lieutenant Neman’s letter writing campaign inspired by the movie Shop Around the Corner starring Jimmy Stewart is on it’s way.  She was seeking women who would volunteer to write anonymous letters to a unit based in England – Engineer Aviation Battalion – where her husband was stationed. The letters would not include names, pictures, just a message of encouragement to our men over seas.

Mellie was an American, born in Philippines, her father was American and mother was half American and half Filipino. Her father would call her his exotic Orchid, but American men seemed to prefer roses. She was shy and was raised in the jungle as her father did his research. She was not raised knowing the customs in America. She didn’t fit in no matter where she lived. She thought, “What if a letter could ease a man’s fears or worries or loneliness? What if her prayers could strengthen him? What if he wrote back?

On paper it wouldn’t matter if she were a rose or an orchid. Perhaps a friendship could develop, still a paper friendship, but it was more than she’d ever had before. She prayed, Lord give me the right words.”

Sergeant Larry Fong was in HMS Derbyshire, Liverpool, England, it’s 1942. “Fong’s a Chinese name not Japanese. The Chinese are our Allies, remember? I’m an American.”

Sergeant replies as the platoon leader explains the letter campaign. “You each get one letter, anonymous. You can reply or not, your choice. If you do, play by the rules. No names, personal details – hometown, people’s names, etc. Anonymity!”

Mellie starts to write her first letter, “An Anonymous correspondence appeals to me. In the real world shyness bars me from friendship, but a letter removes that barrier. I must warn you, I have little experience with friendship, but I can offer you encouragement, prayer and a listening ear…”

Larry Fong writes back to Mellie, “Dear Annie the Anonymous Nurse, Pardon the nickname but I couldn’t address a letter to “blank” You’re probably surprised to get a reply. As you thought, most of the men are looking for romance. I’m not, but I am looking for a friend.

If we met, you’d think me sociable, cheerful, and surrounded by a crowd. But in the crowd I have no true friend.

You say anonymity appeals to you. Well, it sets me free. For reasons too numerous to mention – and forbidden by anonymity – I can’t be in public. I always have to be sunny. But in anonymity, perhaps I can be myself.

You offer encouragement, prayer and a listening ear. If that offer still stands by the time you get to the end of this letter, I’ll take it. I offer the same to you.”

Larry Fong has an inner turmoil – living in his fathers shadow and being himself, not what others expect him to be.

This is a fascinating story with endearing characters that captured my heart and I could connect with. Sarah does an amazing job of capturing this slice of American history and its people for others to experience and understand.  I highly recommend it and look forward to the other books in this series.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, November 05, 2012

Are You Writing the Next Great American Novel???

Michelle G will not approve of the Viking helmet as seen above. But she is a NaNoWriMo fan. Join her and countless others as they crack out the next "Great American Novel." Writer's Digest has a handy page for NaNoWriMoers so visit for encouragement, ideas or maybe even threats. No, wait, threats are better found with Michelle.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Carole Towriss's In the Shadow of Sinai ~ Reviewed

In the Shadow of Sinai
By Carole Towriss
Publisher: DeWard Publishing Company
289 pages
ISBN: 978-1-936341-48-1


Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order,
Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been
banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.  

When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year, Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave, the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful, young concubine.  

When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel.

But that’s only the beginning… 


When I think of the biblical Exodus, I envision the beaten down slave working in the brutal sun, struggling to survive. I’d never paused to consider those with high-ranking or prestigious positions … like Bezalel. With his artistic skill, Bezalel rises in prestige among the Egyptians, gaining the respect of Pharaoh himself, and yet, his gifting deprives him of what he longs for most—connection with his family and his people. Forced to work in the heat, the common slaves view Bezalel as a traitor. Trapped by his own gifting, Bezalel wonders if perhaps God isn’t as loving as some claim him to be. His emotions are complicated further when the plagues brought about by God—those designed to bring liberation—hurts someone Bezalel cares for. Through Bezalel, we experience the plagues—the questions, the fears, the doubts—not only through an Israelite, but through the Egyptians, as well.

The road to faith is never easy, and sometimes we must hit what feels like an impenetrable road block, but in this beautifully crafted novel of hope brought from despair, we realize it is in our times of greatest trials that God triumphs.

This novel grabbed me from page one, and I truly loved each character presented. Carole Trowiss’ writing is fresh and engaging, and stirred my thinking long after I finished the novel. You don’t need to love biblical fiction to enjoy this gripping story of redemption. Anyone who’s ever shook their fists at God, anyone who’s ever wondered how good could possibly come from their tragedy, anyone who longs to see God’s love prevail, will thoroughly enjoy in the Shadow of SinaiIn the Shadow of Sinai is a beautiful novel of hope amidst despair, trust in the face of terror, and a love that binds. Debut author Carole Towriss turned a familiar story of liberation into an unexpected love story that resonates deep in the hearts.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Thursday, November 01, 2012

If You are a Writing Reader...It's NaNoWriMo....

Planning on participating in NaNoWriMo???? Or thinking strongly about it? 

Visit Writer's Digest Daily helps for NaNoWriMo participants or wannabes

Day One. A Calendar of activities and organizational ideas!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kasey Van Norman's Named by God ~ Reviewed

By Kasey Van Norman
Published by Tyndale
239 Pages

Back Cover: 

In many ways, Kasey Van Norman has suffered more heartbreak than one woman can bear. Growing up, she endured her parents’ divorce, date rape, and years of addiction to sex, cutting, and eating disorders. As an adult, Kasey has endured a painful miscarriage; the heartbreak (and restoration) of infidelity; a cancer diagnosis; rejection by her friends, church, and community; and her mother’s death from cancer. But at the end of this twisting path of sorrow, Kasey walked out of the wilderness and into a place of God’s merciful and miraculous healing and redemption. In Named by God, Kasey shares her story of God’s infinite grace and compassion so that others might learn from her experience as they encounter a depth of Jesus like never before!


Christian’s aren’t perfect and forgiveness is a gift to be shared Kasey Van Norman shares with readers. Life can even get messy even for Christians, Jesus says in this life you will have trouble, no one is immune. I’m thankful for this refreshing, honest, heartfelt testimonial. Kasey shares her journey of healing a pain so deep only God could see and heal. The author says, “We are named by God, not by our failures but by who Christ says we are.”

The chapters are broken down into three parts. First is overcoming your past, second Transforming your present and third Embracing your future. The author gives the reader hope in their own journey of healing. The first part deals with overcoming your past. What does it mean to be named by God and live out what God says about us? The author states, “…its to abide in a constant state of redemption and surrender. It’s a place of knowing who you are in Christ and knowing that you’re true, identity is found in Him. It is a place of recognizing that other people’s opinions and attitudes toward us no longer dictate our worth. It’s a place where religion and rules fade away and your connection with your creator becomes all the more central. And it is a place where you’re every word, every thought, and every action is preceded by a clear move of the Lord. Being named by god is finding yourself by losing yourself, redemption and surrender…It’s easy to get so hung up in either the past or the future that we fail to live fully in the present…God has a calling for us to embrace right now, today.”

You will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth Isaiah 62:2

You are named by God, He is yours, your are healed, you are more than the sum of your mistakes, you are not alone, you are His Beloved, you are filled with his power, you are forgiven, you are his child, you are safe, you are free from the power of sin, you are His delight, you are chosen are just a few topics covered in this inspirational, practical easy to read book. It’s one you’ll read and keep referring to. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent